Laptops ease athletes’ studies

Since Jeff Attinella, goalie for USF men’s soccer team, received his university-issued white 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro laptop, he hasn’t even opened his old one.

Attinella and 461 other USF athletes received laptops at the end of last semester from USF Athletics to give them better access to their classes when they travel for games, said Justin Miller, assistant athletics director for Academics and Student-Athlete Development.

“It’s pretty cool that we all got them and it really helps that we can communicate with our advisers and tutors via the Web,” said Attinella, a junior majoring in mass communications. “We have really busy schedules, so it’s helpful that we don’t have to come to (the Athletics building) when we have classes throughout the day to talk to a tutor or one of our advisers.”

USF rented the laptops for a three-year period and distributed them to athletes from all 19 teams, Miller said. After three years, USF can either renew its contract or return the laptops to Apple.

Costing about $175,000 per year, the laptops were funded by the existing $32.2 million athletics 2009-10 budget, Miller said.

Verizon and Ricoh printing company also contributed funds to help purchase the laptops, he said.

Tutoring sessions will be held for student athletes via Apple’s iChat program, Miller said. Tutor rooms in the Athletics building will be equipped with monitors so students can meet with tutors while traveling on the road.

“From our perspective, it’s something that we, as a department, have been interested in,” Miller said. “At the time, we knew we wanted to be involved. We wanted to do something, to provide this tool for our student athletes.”

The laptops contain the Snow Leopard operating system, the Microsoft Office suite and the iLife software, which includes iPhoto, iTunes and iWorks, Miller said.

AJ Love, wide receiver for the football team, said his new laptop took some getting used to, but it’s made life easier.

“The laptop was difficult to figure out at first because the format is different,” Love said. “It’s like I only need one hand to do my homework now.”

While Miller understands students will want to use the laptops for their personal use, he said the Athletics Department wants them to remember the computers are USF property and usage shouldn’t violate university guidelines.

But not all students support the new program.

Valerie Rooks, a senior majoring in education, said laptops should’ve only been provided to student athletes who don’t already have one.

“I don’t think it was necessary,” Rooks said. “Most college students have laptops already. Even if (the University) did just give the laptops to the athletes, they should’ve done something to earn it.”

Amanda Cash, a senior majoring in education, said it’s unfair to single out student athletes when all students need laptops for school.

“I’m not happy about it,” Cash said. “I think it’s a little excessive to spend money on computers for all the athletes when programs are being cut.”